UK to ban microbeads by October 2017

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In December of 2015, the US House of Representatives voted in favor of banning microbes from personal care products. These tiny plastic beads—added to shampoo and other personal care products to aide exfoliation—have become a major source of pollution in rivers, streams, lakes and oceans. Although some criticized the narrow scope of the products targeted, the US ban should lead to a significant reduction in the amount of plastics pollution entering our waterways.

Encouragingly, it appears to have inspired similar bans elsewhere.

Business Green reports that the UK government has laid out its intentions to ban microbeadss from personal care and cosmetics products (cosmetics were one of the categories omitted from the US ban) by October of 2017 at the latest, and the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is urging shoppers to choose microbead free alternatives until the full ban comes into effect.

Obviously, this ban is a big win for campaigners. And, much like legislation phasing out polluting vehicles or coal, its impact will stretch well beyond its scope. By banning microbes in one set of products and in one major jurisdiction, the government will encourage microbead-free product formulations which will be sold all over the world. They will also put other industries on notice: If you don't tackle the pollution in your supply chain voluntarily, you may be forced to do so in the not-too-distant future.

Tags: Oceans | Plastics | Pollution

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